Volume 10, Issue 3, 2019
N. Gabriel Martin
What Is the Epistemic Significance of Disagreement?
Over the past decade, attention to epistemically significant disagreement has centered on the question of whose disagreement qualifies as significant, but ignored another fundamental question: what is the epistemic significance of disagreement? While epistemologists have assumed that disagreement is only significant when it indicates a determinate likelihood that one’s own belief is false, and therefore that only disagreements with epistemic peers are significant at all, they have ignored a more subtle and more basic significance that belongs to all disagreements, regardless of who they are with—that the opposing party is wrong. It is important to recognize the basic significance of disagreement since it is what explains all manners of rational responses to disagreement, including assessing possible epistemic peers and arguing against opponents regardless of their epistemic fitness.